Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Opinion

Marching to the beat of their own voices

RECOMMENDED READING


Far be it for me to offer unsolicited advice to a bunch of anarchists, socialists, professional protesters and other assorted left-leaning malcontents. But at the risk of being accused of having unnatural political relations with Karl Rove, you could learn a thing or two from the Republicans gathered here for their national convention, and perhaps even from Bain Capital, about time management or shaping the marketing message.

Put that brick down! Now. I'm only trying to help.

If you are going to plan a big protest march decrying the cruel tools of oppression being visited upon the 99 percent of the great — and in this case literally — unwashed, could you please start marching?

The Coalition to March on the RNC was set to step off from Perry Harvey Park and make its way to the official protest zone at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. This would be a grand opportunity to inveigh against all things Republican.

But the problem with liberals, especially when their passions start to percolate, is they have no earthly idea when to shut up.

Before the marching and the chanting and the ever popular toe-tapping refrains of "Whose street? Our street!" began, the several hundred assembled demonstrators were subjected to two hours of nearly 30 speeches by morally outraged people who all managed to say the same thing.

America is being ruled by the jackbooted robber barons of Wall Street. Check. Republicans regard women as mere vessels of procreation. Gotcha. If you're black or Hispanic, who do you think you are? Ten-four. The nation is the world's foremost imperialist power trying to crush our dear friends in Venezuela, Syria and Iran. Down with that.

But should it take 30 speakers on an endless loop of Angela Davis-inspired rhetoric to say that we're up a creek if the Romney cabal gets elected? Look, the assembled crowd was already well on board with the Romney is the Angel of Death shtick.

As the speech-a-thon began, so did the rains, but a little moisture was not about to put a damper on verbosity. The greatest egos on Earth had to press on.

What would a gathering of the Perry Harvey Proletariat be without St. Petersburg's own Omali Yeshitela of the African People's Socialist Party along with his Frau Blucher of the Uhuru movement, Penny Hess, who managed in a just a few short minutes to let everyone know how miserable life is in the United States. And by the time they finished, the crowd would have readily agreed.

It needn't have taken this long. The march certainly was about the great American tradition of activism, petitioning the government for redress of grievances, free speech, free assembly.

And for just one example of what the march was really all about, look to Bobbie O'Brien, a 69-year-old former Hillsborough County school teacher with two knee replacements who had never marched, or demonstrated, or been otherwise politically active until about a week or so ago.

That was when Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, with all the intellectual acuity of an anvil, uttered his now infamous comments about "legitimate rape" while also revealing an obtuse ignorance about the female reproductive system.

That was it for O'Brien, who decided to get involved with the Code Pink women's movement. "I've had this anger all this time," she smiled. Now she intended to put it into action.

Her late son, Todd, was a Tampa Police Department officer who died several years ago from Lou Gehrig's disease. O'Brien cast a glance over at the phalanx of law enforcement officers on hand for the March on the RNC.

"I can hear him giggling now," O'Brien laughed. "And he's saying: 'Now Mom, don't get arrested.' "

For all the prattling on the dais about oppression and inequality and the greedy 1 percent, Bobbie O'Brien is what democracy looks like. It looks like a woman who woke up one day and decided she was simply sick and tired of all the … well, balderdash that passes for political discourse and decided in her own way and on two rebuilt knees to say something about it.

Todd would have been proud of his mother's moment in the rain.

Comments

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise ó for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system ó one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Krisemanís own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17